The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC attracts millions of visitors a year and contains a treasure trove of famous aircraft – including Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and Wilbur and Orville Wright’s 1903 Wright Flyer. Exhibits include a flight simulator, an IMAX theater, and the Einstein Planetarium.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum houses more than 60,000 air and space objects in its vast collection. Examples of what is on display include:
- Space Shuttle Main Engine: The engine that powers the Space Shuttle. Its flights have included the first four Shuttle missions and the John Glenn flight. The engine was donated to the Smithsonian in 2004.
- Lockheed T-33-A-5-Lo Shooting Star: The T-33 was the only jet trainer in the U.S. Air Force inventory from 1948 until 1957. It has a polished metal finish, and all guns have been removed. It was donated by the United States Air Force.
- RTV-N-15-Drone: The RTV is a research vehicle for missile development and testing piloted aircraft parts. It was donated in 1971 by the U.S. Navy.
- Aerial Cameras: The museum features many aerial cameras that were used for gathering intelligence photography by the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Apollo 11: There are several Apollo 11 items from the iconic first landing of a man on the moon in 1969. The collection includes items donated by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, as well as actual space craft parts and materials.
Exhibits are revolving have included “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall,” “Cold War Aviation,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey Immersive Art Exhibit.” Check the museum’s Website for current exhibits.
The Museum offers a variety of resources for all ages to explore aviation and space-related topics. The Web site offers educator resources, a multimedia gallery, and highlighted topics.
In addition, Smithsonian staff and fellows conduct research on a variety of topics related to space and flight. The focus is on three specific areas:
- Earth and Planetary Science, and
- Space History.
If You Go:
- Address: 600 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20560
- Official Web site: https://airandspace.si.edu/visit/museum-dc
- Price & Hours: Free admission. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. It is recommended that you arrive in the morning to avoid the heaviest crowds.
- Digital Guides: The Museum offers digital guides to highlight its exhibits. Choose from Adult or Youth guides. Cost is $7 each for a single device; $6 each for museum members and multiple devices. Guides are offered in English, Chinese, French and Spanish.
- Museum Gift Store: The museum features a three-level gift shop that features a variety of aviation- and space-themed souvenirs including postcards, books, clothing, toys, and more.
- The Washington, DC Museum features a café that serves sandwiches and salads. It opens at 11 a.m.
The best way to get to the Smithsonian is by taking OurBus to Washington D.C.